The Learning Accelerator Blog/Getting to Know TLA’s New COO, Brittany McCullough

Getting to Know TLA’s New COO, Brittany McCullough

by Lacey Gonzales on May 9 2024

I recently sat down with The Learning Accelerator’s (TLA) Chief Operating Officer, Brittany McCullough, to learn more about her background, perspective, and vision as she joins our organization.

You just joined us this May, welcome to TLA! Tell us a little bit more about your professional background and experiences.

Thank you for the warm welcome! I’m so excited to be here! My professional journey has been quite diverse, offering me a wide range of experiences across various sectors. When I graduated from college, I jumped right into working as a dispatcher/technician support person at a major telecommunications company. While I didn’t know it then, that role really launched my love for operations. I developed strong organization, multi-tasking, and problem-solving skills early in my career, which proved essential to my work in the operations space over the years. From there, I had the opportunity to transition into the business department where I had roles in administration and sales. I gained invaluable insights into customer relations, marketing, and business development.

However, while pursuing an MBA, I realized the significance of education in shaping individuals and societies. This realization sparked my passion for the field, leading me to channel my efforts towards education reform. Over the past decade, I've had the privilege to serve in education through a variety of operations leadership roles. One of my most impactful experiences was the opportunity to help found an elementary school in Nashville, TN as the Founding Director of Operations.

That role solidified my passion for working in education and has been a driver for my desire to ensure strong operations support student success.
Most recently, I’ve served in pivotal leadership roles in national education nonprofits deeply engaged in operational strategies that ultimately support teams with enhancing learning experiences and driving positive impact for students.

What drew you to join TLA?

I joined TLA because the organization has an unwavering commitment to innovation. TLA’s relentless pursuit of ways to enhance the educational landscape for students is exciting to me. One thing that truly resonated with me was TLA's core value: "Kids first." The simplicity and depth of this core value deeply resonated with my sense of purpose. It signified a genuine dedication to prioritizing the wellbeing and success of students above all else, which is a principle I wholeheartedly align with.

    What do you hope to achieve in this role?

    That’s a really big question! Ultimately, I aim to leverage my background in operations, strategy, people management, and customer service to contribute significantly to TLA's continued success. I aspire to foster a dynamic team environment and cultivate a culture that not only challenges individuals to grow professionally but also ensures their wellbeing and safety. By emphasizing the importance of strong operations in driving the overall success of the organization, I hope to empower the team to excel in their respective roles and collectively contribute to TLA's mission of advancing education innovation.

    What would you like our partners in building a better education field to know about TLA right now?

    I've had the privilege of immersing myself in TLA's work over the past few months, and what stands out most is the organization's unwavering commitment to innovation and creativity in supporting the education sector as a whole. TLA is dedicated to gathering valuable insights and creating impactful resources for organizations and educators across the field, focusing on driving positive change.

      What sets TLA apart is not just its innovative ideas, but also the passion and drive of its staff. They are truly hungry and excited for change, and they firmly believe that through collaborative efforts we can collectively transform the education landscape. I am incredibly proud to be a part of this transformative journey.

        Looking around at the landscape of education reform and social justice organizations, what emerging trends or challenges do you see?

        One prominent trend is the increasing focus on leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) in education. AI holds immense potential to revolutionize learning experiences, offering personalized instruction and valuable insights into student progress. However, it also presents challenges such as ethical considerations, data privacy concerns, and the risk of exacerbating inequalities if not implemented equitably.

          In navigating these trends and challenges, it's crucial to strike a balance between harnessing the potential of AI and mitigating its risks. This involves thoughtful implementation strategies, robust ethical guidelines, and ongoing research to understand its impact on teaching and learning. Prioritizing equity and inclusion must remain at the forefront of education reform efforts, ensuring all students have the support and resources they need to thrive.

          What values are you excited to “lean into” in your role as COO?

          In my role as COO, I'm excited to lean into several core values that resonate deeply with me and align with TLA's mission and vision.

            First and foremost, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) will be central to my approach. As someone responsible for managing HR and finance, I recognize the profound impact of how we allocate resources and support our team members on the overall health of the organization. Prioritizing DEI ensures that we foster a workplace culture where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents.

            Finally, I intend to embrace a mindset of nimbleness and entrepreneurship. TLA may be a small team, but we have the opportunity to make a significant difference in the education field. As the operations leader for the organization, I must prioritize strategic problem-solving to ensure we remain agile and innovative. By continuously adapting to evolving challenges and opportunities, we can stay at the forefront of education innovation and effectively support the needs of students and educators nationwide.

            About the Author

            Lacey Gonzales is an Associate Director of Communications, at The Learning Accelerator, leading TLA’s communications, marketing, and storytelling strategies. Lacey works across the TLA team to maximize the organization’s impact, reach, branding, and visibility to fuel individual, organization, and sector learning.